by Ryan Isley
With the 2012 college football season on the horizon, More Than A Fan contributor Damien Bowman (@damienbowman) decided he wanted to challenge us over at MTAF to make predictions for all of the BCS conferences, the BCS Bowls and the national championship game. We recruited Stephen Garvin (@CleveNole) to help us out from the reader’s side. They decided that they wanted me to be the person from MTAF making picks (they will regret that when I am right). The following is what we came up with – feel free to let us know what you think, even if you disagree. Hell, ESPECIALLY if you disagree. I mean, just look at Stephen’s national championship game.
Stephen: Atlantic – Florida State Coastal – Virginia Tech Champion – Florida State
I know what you’re thinking, the FSU alumnus is being a homer and picking his team. When in reality this is the first season in almost 7 years I enter the season with expectations of a conference championship and a trip to a BCS bowl. Over the last decade it has been a battle of national media hype of FSU, which was always far off the actual rational expectations of the fan base. The biggest tests for Florida State this season will be Clemson at home, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on a Thursday Night, and staying healthy after an injury plagued 2011. I think Clemson’s OL and DL will be exposed with their inexperience and don’t forget this team lost four of their last six games last year. As for Virginia Tech they return only 2 starters on the offensive side of the ball and Logan Thomas will really need to play at an elite level throughout the season in order to contend for the ACC crown.
Damien: Atlantic – Florida State Coastal – Virginia Tech Champion – Florida State
I am not even sure I have anything positive to say about this conference. I am sure it has happened before, but why in the world are teams playing conference opponents week 1? No one has the answer because it makes little sense. Although I think Virginia Tech is best Coastal division team, they will puke all over themselves and will find a way to lose to Florida State in the conference championship game. I have zero confidence that Frank Beamer’s teams can show up when it counts. Honorable mention goes to Dabo Swinney and Clemson because I love his nickname and Florida State could find a way to screw this up. If they do, Clemson will be there to take advantage of it.
Ryan: Atlantic – Florida State Coastal – Virginia Tech Champion – Florida State
Florida State gets the advantage of having a home game against Clemson and it is hard to fathom that Clemson QB Tahj Boyd will have another year as good as last season. Virginia Tech may not be as strong as normal, but they get the break of playing in a weaker division. The game agaonst Georgia Tech in the season opener should tell us which team wins the Coastal Division.
Stephen: Champion – Louisville
Are there any other Big East teams left?
Damien: Champion – Louisville
Louisville is the only team in the conference that has a chance to do anything other than embarrass themselves week after week. Cincinnati hasn’t reloaded enough to competitive with the fairly easy schedule they gave themselves. This conference will lose its Automatic Qualifier status with the 2014 season. The lack of competition from top to bottom shows why. Louisville should easily win this conference this year and next, and reap the benefits of playing in the BCS.
Ryan: Champion – Louisville
Coming off a season in which they started slow but won 5 of their last 6 games in the regular season, Charlie Strong’s team should be better offensively as Teddy Bridgewater enters his second year in the offense. They also return more than half of their defensive starters from a unit that was in the top-20 in points allowed last season.
Stephen: Leaders – Wisconsin Legends - Michigan Champion – Michigan
Yes, I am drinking the Denard Robinson kool-aid. Even more, I’m drinking the Brady Hoke kool-aid as well. There is no question that Hoke has turned the direction of the Michigan football around 180 degrees since landing in Ann Arbor. As for Wisconsin, they are just consistent and come to play every year, it’s hard to pick against them. I’d like to think if Ohio State wasn’t on a post season ban they would be contending for a league title, but I still think they are a year way. There is no doubt the new coach there will help that program out tremendously, he is probably one of the few hires they could have made to help keep that program from sinking.
Damien: Leaders - Wisconsin Legends - Michigan State Champion – Michigan State
Ohio State is the best team in the Leaders Division. There. I said it. Ohio State is not eligible for the post-season, so the honor will fall to Wisconsin, who will wind a way to lose to OSU at Camp Randall in what will most likely be a night game on ABC. Ohio State is not playing for anything other than their honor and Wisconsin should not forget that. I am not sure why everyone is in love with Michigan this year. I think Michigan’s offense is wonderful, but they have shown their defense falters in the late part of the season. Michigan State is the most complete team other than Nebraska, who was not impressive in their Big Ten debut. Only those in East Lansing will like my next statement. Sparty to the Rose Bowl.
Ryan: Leaders - Wisconsin Legends - Michigan Champion – Michigan
I honestly think that if Ohio State was eligible, the Leaders Division would come down to the Ohio State-Wisconsin showdown on Nov.17. With Ohio State being ineligible, Wisconsin could play their second string all season and win the Leaders. In the Legends, I think it comes down to the health of Denard Robinson and the maturation of trhe Michigan defense. If Robinson gets hurt or the defense hasn’t improved, the division could be wide open.
Stephen: Champion – West Virginia
I so badly want to play it safe and take Oklahoma, but I’m going to reach on this one and pick the Fighting Couch Burners of West Virginia. It’s hard not to like a team coached by Dana Holgorsen. He’s wild, crazy, can’t comb his hair, still attends keg parties, and likes to drop 70 points on Clemson. What’s not to like?
Damien: Champion – Oklahoma
I’m not even sure why this is a question other than the fact that I wrote it. While Texas has the most talent in the Big 12, Oklahoma is the beneficiary of having a much easier schedule. If Texas can survive their conference schedule, they probably have the best chance to beat an SEC type school, but their offense is terrible. I just used double-talk, didn’t I? Oklahoma has the best QB in the conference, but the men in the trenches are the biggest concern. Winner of the Red River Shootout wins the conference, as always.
Ryan: Champion – Oklahoma
To be honest, this was probably the easiest conference to pick. Landry Jones made the decision to return to school (he needed to, in my opinion) and the return of Dominique Whaley make the offense powerful as always. The only thing that might trip up Bob Stoops and the boys are trips to two new Big 12 schools, as they travel to West Virginia and TCU in the final few weeks of the season.
Stephen: North - Oregon South - USC Champion – Oregon
Oregon has a RS freshmen at quarterback and USC has a preseason Heisman candidate as their signal caller, but the thing that will hurt USC is their lack of depth due to scholarship restrictions the last couple years. What Oregon lacks in experience I believe they make up in depth, which is the complete opposite of USC. USC must remain extreme healthy in order to live up to the preseason hype. Also, I give the coaching edge to Chip Kelly over Lane Kiffin.
Damien: North - Oregon South - USC Champion – Oregon
The Pacific-12 is the toughest conference to pick because of the conference layout. Arizona (Rich Rodriguez) and Washington State (Mike Leach) both have new coaches this year and will make their presence felt with high-powered offenses. That said, both Oregon and Southern California will each play in BCS games. USC beats Oregon on November 3 at the Coliseum then loses to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. Look for California and Stanford to be surprise teams this year, but I don’t expect either to beat Oregon or USC.
Ryan: North - Oregon South - USC Champion – USC
Despite starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback, the Chip Kelly offense should still be dynamic enough for the Oregon Ducks to capture the North, as they return Kenjon Barner at RB, who rushed for almost 1,000 yards behing LaMichael James last season. As for USC, they return Heisman favorite Matt Barkley at quarterback and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee at wide receiver – making them a dangerous team through the air. Add Penn State transfer RB SIlas Redd to the mix and USC will be giving defensive coaches headaches all season
Stephen: East – South Carolina West - LSU Champion – LSU
Let’s be honest, picking an SEC champion is no easy task. Between LSU, Georgia, Bama, South Carolina, and even Arkansas all of these teams have the talent to compete for the league crown. This season I think LSU’s diverse ground attack and dominant defense will do what’s needed to find their way as the BCS representative for the SEC. I also think this will be the first year in a long time that there isn’t an SEC team in the BCS championship.
Damien: East – South Carolina West - Alabama Champion – Alabama
Let us be real about this, the SEC has sixteen teams but only five are worth writing about. Of the five, only two (Alabama, Louisiana State), have a shot and representing the conference in the National Championship game. The other three – Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – combined could not win in Atlanta on December 1st. Alabama has not won in Death Valley since 2008 and LSU has won seven of the past ten non post-season meetings. That will change this year. I expect Alabama to win in Baton Rouge and expect them to win a close game over South Carolina in the Georgia Dome.
Ryan: East – South Carolina West - Alabama Champion – Alabama
This might be the season the old ball coach gets his Gamecocks past Georgia and into the SEC Championship game, but let’s be honest – in the SEC, it’s all about the West. Alabama will reload (easy to do when you sign 100 players a year) and beat LSU in the regular season to win the division. LSU will miss Tyrann Mathieu more than people realize – but moreso on special teams than on defense.
Rose Bowl (Jan. 1):
Stephen: Michigan vs. USC
Damien: Michigan State vs. USC
Ryan: Michigan vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1):
Stephen: South Carolina vs. West Virginia
Damien: Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma
Ryan: Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame
Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2):
Stephen: Oklahoma vs. LSU
Damien: Michigan vs. LSU
Ryan: Florida State vs. LSU
Orange Bowl (Jan. 3):
Stephen: Wisconsin vs. Louisville
Damien: Florida State vs. Louisville
Ryan: West Virginia vs. Louisville
BCS National Championship Game:
Stephen: Florida State vs. Oregon Champion – Florida State
Damien: Alabama vs. Oregon Champion - Alabama
Ryan: Alabama vs. USC Champion - USC